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In this stunning debut—both a memoir and a work of investigative journalism that joins the ranks of works by Mary Karr, Leslie Jamison, and Joan Didion—writer Sarah Fay explores the ways we pathologize human experiences.
Over thirty years, doctors diagnosed Sarah Fay with six different mental illnesses—anorexia, major depressive disorder (MDD), anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and bipolar disorder. Pathological is the gripping story of what it was like to live with those diagnoses, and the crippling impact each had on her life. It is also a rigorous investigation into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)—psychiatry’s “bible,” the manual from which all mental illness diagnoses come. Like the millions of Americans who’ll receive DSM diagnoses in their lifetimes, she believed the DSM and its diagnoses were valid, only to discover that this revered manual has little scientific merit.